As you explore the world of internet marketing, you’ll probably come across the phrases “keyword” or “keyword research” on more than one occasion. But what are keywords and why should you care about them? Think about what happens when you go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo. If you’re looking for information on cruise deals for your next vacation, you might enter the word “cruises” into the search bar to find websites related to vacation deals. That word you entered is what’s referred to as a keyword. If you entered a string of words, say “best cruise deals”, you’ve entered a keyphrase into the search engine.

Searchers use keywords to find information on the internet.

The keyword or keyphrase tells the search engine what kind of results to bring back for you. Search engines scour the internet, recording the information they find on various sites around the web. When you enter the keyphrase “best cruise deals”, the search engines comb their databanks to find sites related to “best cruise deals”.

When you’re building a website, choosing the keywords and phrases to focus on is extremely important. You want to target the keywords people are actively searching for. But as you can imagine, some keywords are more competitive than others. An example of a general keyphrase is “lose weight”. It’s much more competitive than the keyphrase “lose weight with the lemon juice diet”.

If you build a new site around the phrase “lose weight”, you’ll be competing with well established websites and likely find your site buried on page 89 of Google’s search results for the term. Where your site falls on the search results pages is measured as its ranking. For the general keyphrase “lose weight”, you’ll likely be low in the rankings, so your site won’t receive much traffic or exposure.

On the other hand, if you focus on less competitive keywords, you can expect to rank much higher in the search engine results – you may even be able to land the much-coveted first page ranking. This is why good keyword research is vital to the success of your online business. Focus on less competitive keywords and you can expect to rank much higher in the search engine results. Focus on lots of less competitive keywords and you’ll get lots of free traffic.

Ideally, you want to find keyphrases that have high search volumes and low competition. The two go hand-in-hand – the phrase “make your own digital camera using a potato” likely has low competition, but it won’t matter if no one ever searches for it. The experts argue back and forth about exactly what type of numbers you should be looking for – “search engine results of less than 500,000″ or “at least 1,000 daily searches” – but it will be up to you to determine which parameters work best for your internet business. The other thing to keep in mind is that you optimize the individual pages of your site, not just the home page. So you don’t just pick one keyword or keyphrase. You need to select a number of them and set up an actual strategy for ranking high for all of them.

To conduct your keyword research, you can take advantage of a number of free or paid keyword research tools. One of the best free research tools is available through the Google Adwords program, although you can find other good options at or by searching online. If you’re looking for programs that offer added functionality, look into WordTracker’s subscription service. Any one of these programs will help you identify keywords and keyphrases with high traffic and low competition to build your web pages around.

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